On Poetry II

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(c) Butterfly Series by Victoria Horkan

There is something peculiar about poetry. Here’s a thought I had today: I can schedule a painting session for the weekend (or all of my weekends for that matter) and I can plan my singing exercises (for warming up my voice) during the week (preferably on Mondays). But I would find it rather difficult to say that on Wednesday evenings I will be writing poetry. As if I can have an appointment at 8:30 pm sharp with a muse who will tell me exactly what to write and how to write it; as if I can plan to feel and exude my emotions as mechanically as I wake up, have breakfast and go to work.

That’s because if painting and singing could be treated as work, for which I need to show up, poetry is that which sneaks up on me from the darkest or tenderest rooms where I left the back door ajar. Sometimes it’s recognizable, other times well-camouflaged; nonetheless, it’s an itch that begs to be alleviated, a fervor to be expressed, manifested and sent out into the vibrating world. It cannot dwell in you for long because you would congest and eventually decompose. If you’re gleeful or grieving, poetry can help you express both.

There’s a reason why maybe the greatest poetry will not be scribbled as you sit at your writing table, but sufficiently close to it – standing near the window to smell the lilacs in the spring or saying farewell to someone you irremediably lost. These are the moments of nascent poems, when something within and without compels you to give birth to it.

On that (poetic) note, here are other revealing quotes on poetry that will hopefully awaken the dormant poet in you. You may read the first part here. Enjoy!

  1. The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. Margaret Atwood

  2. Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry. Virginia Woolf

  3. It is poetry that will save the world, not commerce. Art Professor Luther from the Glory Daze movie

  4. Poetry is the only life got, the only work done, the only pure product and free labor of man, performed only when he has put all the world under his feet, and conquered the last of his foes. Henry David Thoreau

  5. Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do. Stephen Spender

  6. Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. Dennis Gabor

  7. Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Kahlil Gibran

  8. Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it. Rumi

  9. Poetry is an act of peace. Pablo Neruda

  10. Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals. Sylvia Plath

    george mckim poetry
    (c) George McKim Poetry – Poem Painting
  11. At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. Plato

  12. Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words. Paul Engle

  13. There is poetry as soon as we realize we possess nothing. John Cage

  14. If you want to annoy a poet, explain his poetry. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  15. Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. William Wordsworth

  16. Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things. T. S. Eliot

  17. Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. Adrian Mitchell

  18. Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. Dylan Thomas

  19. Poetry is frosted fire. J. Patrick Lewis

  20. I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering. Robert Frost

  21. Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing. Lucille Clifton

  22. I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls. Anaïs Nin

  23. I know you are reading this poem/in a room where too much has happened for you to bear. Adrienne Rich from An Atlas of the Difficult World

  24. There is a pleasure in poetic pains which only poets know. William Cowper

  25. Well, write poetry for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters. e. e. cummings

  26. Poetry is, at bottom, a criticism of life. Matthew Arnold

  27. A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. Salman Rushdie

  28. The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it. Sylvia Plath

There is no stopping it…

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